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Chesapeake Health Dept. kicks off weekly farmer's market to increase access to fresh food

The market, which now runs every Wednesday, is aimed to help Hampton Roads residents who need access to healthier food options.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Chesapeake Health Department's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program started a farmer's market five years ago, and this spring, it's expanded to offer fresh food to even more people.

Kimi Stevens, a public relations representative for CHD, said the department started the initiative to help families in their WIC nutrition program get farmer's market vouchers.

"If you're financially eligible, then you qualify," said Stevens. "During the pandemic, the gratitude has been off the charts, because families were so food insecure. We definitely saw a rise in our participation."

The program isn't limited to having a farmer's voucher to get produce. Families can also use any SNAP benefit cards or other means. 

Stevens said after a tough year with the pandemic, the department saw a growing need for support, which is something they were able to fulfill.

"We started off - it used to be 30 dollars per family, and last year, they increased it to 30 dollars per person," explained Stevens.

B & H Produce is the farm hosting the market every week. Howard Piland is one of the owners, and said this is his fourth year doing this weekly market.

"It's all the new faces that come up here every year," said Piland. "It's good. It's good for me, good for them."

The farmer's market is held every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. from April through the day before Thanksgiving. 

It's set up behind Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, at 748 Battlefield Blvd. North.

You do not need to be in a nutrition or benefits program to purchase food from the farmer's market.